The Final Fast Cruise and Prizegiving
The final Fast Cruise of the winter 2013 -2014 took place in fair winds and sunshine on 15 March. The destination was Yarmouth and the Fast Cruise started at South Ryde Middle buoy in the eastern Solent. For the boats sailing the long course it started with a triangle to W Ryde Middle, East Bramble and Hill Head before returning to W Ryde Middle a second time before zig-zagging down the western Solent to Yarmouth covering a distance of just over 19miles. Meanwhile the short course fleet sailed directly to W Bramble and then doing the same zig-zag course down the western Solent, a distance of just over 15 miles. Conditions on the day obviously favoured the smaller boats as Musyk finished first, Willow was second 7 minutes 46 seconds behind, Avventura 3rd just 19 seconds behind Willow with the first of the long course fleet, Juno, finishing in 4th place just 27 seconds after Avventura.
The overall positions were just as close. On the LSC club handicap first place went to Solid Air with 8 points, Shearwater and Musyk both finished with 12 points but Shearwater took 2nd place with her discard of 4th place whereas Musyk had discarded a 5th place and was placed 3rd. Willow also scored 12 points but had to discard a 7th place which put her out of the prizes. Just to emphasise how close the sailing has been Juno's crew who had sailed on a number of charter boats during the winter would also have score 12 points if the results of all boats used had been combined. She also would have discarded a 4th place so to separate her from Shearwater it would have needed to go to the second discard, which Juno would have lost through not having any more discards! On the progressive handicap system Musyk finished 1st on 7 points, Willow was second on 13 points and Solid Air 3rd on 14 points. Full Results for LSC handicap are here and for the progressive handicap here.
Looking back over the winter we were very fortunate to miss the worst of the wet and windy weather that was a feature this year. October's Fast Cruise was sailed in bright sunny conditions with moderate wind. Thirteen boats took part in October. We finished at the Royal Southern YC on the River Hamble and combined with boats taking part in the Frostbite Rally. November's Fast Cruise was mostly sailed in light and moderate winds. I say "mostly" because about 30 minutes after the start of the first Fast Cruise the wind swung through 180 degrees and increased from about 4 knots to over 40 knots in less than 2 minutes and then dropped back to about 10 knots after about 10 minutes. These times are approximate as we had other things on our mind at the time. See the picture below. This time we visited Gosport and the Castle Tavern.
Again in December fair weather and fair winds were experienced. The destination was, as usual for the Christmas fancy dress, the Folly.
January was the first time we experienced any of the winter's storms. The morning Fast Cruise started just off the entrance to Portsmouth with a beat westwards using two of the red Portsmouth channel markers as the start line. Just 5 minutes before our scheduled start time a large dredger emerged from Portsmouth and I decided to postpone the start and clear the channel before it arrived. The first Fast Cruise started in around 10 knots but during the course of the Cruise the wind increased to around 25 knots. Whist awaiting for the fleet to assemble for the second start the wind was continuously blowing at 32 knots with gusts in excess of 35 knots so I decided to abandon the afternoon sailing. In January I was sailing on Shearwater and we made our way to Southsea harbour. The first problem was that as the afternoon sailing had been abandoned we were too early. In fact we were ahead of the tide and found that the approach channel was slightly less than charted and we touched in a couple of places. We eventually made it and, after a lot of effort, tied up to the waiting pontoon for lunch. By the time we had finished lunch the wind was in the upper 30s and we decided that the entrance to Southsea marina woud be too difficult and to return to Haslar. During the return passage we experienced gusts of 47 knots and our progress against both wind and tide meant our SOG for some of the time was less than 1 knot.
We had fair winds for February again, although the forecast for Saturday night and Sunday was for yet another gale. This month the plan was to visit Town Quay in Southampton but more than half the fleet opted to return to their home ports before the gale came through. I had a charter boat for this month and spent a rather unpleasant night tied to the outer breakwater of the marina abeam to the gale. Dinner on this occasion was at an Italian restaurant on Town Quay.
I would like to thank Barrie Martin (A Day at the Races) who provided a Plum Pudding Prize for December's Fast Cruise and a Marmelade Pot for the winner on LSC handicap and the winer on progressive handicap in January's FC. Also thanks go to Charles Whittam for staying up to 0200 each Friday constructing 4 courses for most weekends
Fewer boats took part this year compared to earlier years. One of our regular Fast Cruisers,Tim Bizzey, is taking 2 years to sail around Britain and had left his boat in Scotland for the winter. I had offered to put the start time back to 1130 as he was berthed so far away but for some reason he rejected my offer. Another regular, Mike Gorvett was sailing in the ARC this winter and another regular, Kathy Mason, who always chartered Blue Lady was crewing for him. That meant that we only had 9 boats out most months. Hopefully we may see an increase in numbers next year.
Please Note in your diaries; Next year will start on the 25 October 2014, and the following series on the 24 October 2015. I am now off for a long rest but further dates will be published by mid summer.